10 Critical Keychain EDC Items to Always Carry

It doesn’t matter where you are or what time of year it is, there are certain tools that if you have them handy, will make surviving a disaster or grid down situation easier.

Disaster may strike when you least expect it and when you don’t have access to your bug out bag or at home stockpile. In this kind of a circumstance, the only tools that you will be able to use for your survival are what have on you… namely, what’s in your pockets.

keychain survival items

Most survival experts recommend that you keep basic survival items as part of your EDC with you at all times. Attaching items to your keychain is a great way to make sure that you actually always have these items with you when you leave home.

After all, who doesn’t take their keys with them when they walk out the door? Your keychain also keeps everything organized in one place instead of having everything bounce around loose in your pockets.

In this article, we are going to discuss some different accessories to a good survival keychain and why you should consider installing them. Do you have to use everything that we are going to suggest? Of course not.

Each survival keychain is unique to the individual. You don’t have to include all of the items that we are going to suggest if they don’t suit your needs. And you may even come up with some additional items options you need on your keychain.


By far, the most important aspect of your keychain is the key organizer. This is because if you don’t include a key organizer, you don’t have a keychain to begin with!

A key organizer is simply, the ring or other object, that holds all of your keys together. Most people use a key ring because that’s simply what’s been used traditionally for many years.

The best thing about a king ring is that it is capable of holding a large number of keys and other accessories. The larger your key ring is, the more keys and accessories that it will be able to hold.

The neat thing about a key ring is that if it becomes too full of keys or accessories, you can add something else onto the ring, such as a carabiner, that will hold even more items. Yes, this will significantly increase the overall bulkiness of the ring, but it will still keep things organized.

But a standard key ring isn’t your only option. Another option would be a Swiss Army style frame that allows you to fold all of your keys together, and keep them nicely organized.

Another alternative, that’s become more popular particularly with younger folks in the last few years, is the lanyard. A lanyard can hang out of your pocket, but it can also be hung around your neck for quicker access and to keep your pockets free.

There are also clips that you can add to either a ring or lanyard, which will then hook onto the belt or your pocket. The clip keeps everything easily accessible. This is a great option to have when you have a lot of keys and accessories that increase the bulk of your chain.

If you add several survival items to your keyring, such as a flashlight or a multi-tool, you absolutely need a way to keep everything secure and fully accessible.

Now that you probably have an idea for what your key organizer should be, we will cover some of the items that you should consider including on your key chain for your EDC, starting with the…


A multi-tool will not only make life easier in a survival situation, it will help in normal day-to-day life as well. Carrying a multitool eliminates the need to carry a variety of other heavier and bulkier tools. Examples of tools that a multi-tool includes are pliers, scissors, a knife blade, screwdrivers, bottle openers, and small saw.

A multi-tool is a valuable addition to any keychain and it won’t take up a lot of space either.  It’s lightweight, highly functional, and you will never regret having it with you when disaster strikes.


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Yes, many smart phones these days come with flashlights installed on them, but a separate flashlight on your keychain gives you added confidence in the event that your phone dies or gets broken.

There are a huge variety of miniature flashlights out on the market that are designed specifically to be attached to a keychain. Don’t be fooled by the small size of the flashlight. Certain models are able to emit a light that is as bright as full size flashlight, especially when powered by lithium ion cell batteries.

You may end up using your keychain flashlight more than any other tool that you have on your keychain. Not only will you use it to see in the night, but you’ll also use it to look into nooks and crannies and other hard to see areas.


The ability to start a fire is simply one of the only ways in the entire world capable of providing you with a source of light, a way to get warm, a means to cook food, purify water, and protect yourself. That’s why it’s so important that you include at least reliable one fire starter in your EDC. There’s no easier way to get a flame going than with a lighter.

There are models of lighters that attach directly onto keychains and eliminate the need to keep a separate one in your pocket.  These are very convenient and smaller than traditional pocket lighters, and serve to decrease the overall weight and mass of your EDC.


Wait a minute, why would we suggest that you include a watch onto your keychain when you may already have one on your wrist? There’s only one reason: as an emergency backup. Not only is having a watch useful for telling the time in a survival situation, but if you know what you are doing you can also use your watch and the sun as a makeshift compass to help you navigate unfamiliar terrain.

While it’s definitely practical to wear a watch on your wrist, it’s also exposed and could become damaged. In that case, you’ll be glad that you have a backup watch on your keychain. Remove the straps from a watch and then attach the face of the watch to the keychain. It won’t add a lot of bulk and you’ll be glad you did when the need for a backup arises.


There’s an abundance of keychain pens out on the market. The difference between an ordinary pen and a tactical one? The answer is primarily in what the pens are made of. A tactical pen is far more durable because it is constructed out of materials such as aluminum, and can withstand much more abuse.

In addition, a tactical pen serves as a non-lethal weapon because one end will have a blunted tip that you can use to inflict injury on an attacker. Other than those two things, a tactical pen is largely the same thing as a normal pen in that it uses the same kind of ink and loads the same way.


As an alternative (or addition) to a tactical pen, consider using a sharpie type marker. The obvious advantage a sharpie type marker has over a tactical pen is how it leaves a bolder mark.

You can use it to label things or leave signs such as on street signs. This will come in handy for coordination efforts with friends and family members when disaster strikes.


The classic whistle is an excellent signaling device that’s small and inconspicuous anyway, definitely worth including on your key chain. You can use a whistle to signal for help, such as to hikers you see on the other side of the valley in a wilderness survival situation. You can also use it in a defensive situation, to notify people or police officers, if you are being attacked by thieves.

There are many different models of keychain whistles on the market to choose from. Make sure you go with a high quality whistle that can actually carry a sound over a long distance.


Safety pins are incredibly easy to add on to a keychain, but you may still be wondering why you would even want to. The answer is to repair clothing.

Your clothes can and will become ripped and torn in a long term disaster scenario. In a disaster situation, you may not have extra clothes, you’ll have no choice but to repair your existing clothing.

Safety pins don’t offer you a permanent repair solution for your clothing, but they do provide a temporary solution to give you enough time to make a proper repair or find alternative clothing.


Wait a minute, a USB Drive is a survival item? You bet it is. What else can carry everything you have on your computer and be attached onto your keychain?

Even if you don’t have an actual computer with you, if you carry around your USB drive, you’ll be able to access all of your files when you find another computer. It may not work in a power grid down scenario or following an EMP attack, but in all other survival circumstances it will come in handy.

With files on your computer, you’ll be able to prove your identity, gather family photos, access your bank account, and look up any files relating to survival that you have saved.


As you can see, it’s perfectly possible to put together a neat little collection of survival items on your keychain so they are organized and easily accessible when needed. Is this a complete survival kit that will allow you to survive a disaster long-term? Absolutely not, that’s why you should also put together a bug out bag.

Keychain tools are quick and handy survival items that you can access quickly while trying to get back to your house, for example. They will make your survival immensely easier, and they may even end up saving your life when used correctly and in the right scenarios.

Feel free to allow your survival keychain to evolve over time. You will likely find that some items you add to it you decide you don’t really need, or you may discover new items that you decide to add.  The key thing is to make sure your survival keychain is fully functional without being excessively cluttered. If you add too many items, your keychain becomes too big to even fit in your pocket.

6 thoughts on “10 Critical Keychain EDC Items to Always Carry”

  1. I think it is not wise to add a USB drive with you computer on it. In a survival situation people may use force of some kind to confiscate your car. They will need the keys to the car. If you hand over your keys, you’re handing over your computer as well.

  2. I agree about the USB, but not wholey. I would keep a USB, but not on that keychain. I would and in fact have already set up a second keychain, one that is stowed in my Bob. I keep a much lighter “original” set of keys on me. I also have a liquid filled compass on my second keychain. I don’t wear jewelry. Watches or anything. To me it’s an advertisement. And if you have to hide, can give you away.
    If bugging out comes, I will be wearing a small Bob in front, and a larger pack on my back.
    I probably won’t be back.

  3. Bemused Berserker

    My EDC keys, actually all 4 sets of keys have a Streamlight Nano Flashlight, a 4″ Crescent Wrench and a Gerber Mini Suspension on the key rings. House and Car key + Fob are the only other items. Everything else is kept in a small kit in each vehicle. Each kit has whistle, lighter, firesteel, E-Blanket, Band-Aids, Lip Balm, TacPen, Compass, P-Cord, and small rite n rain notebook. There’s also $50 in various Bill’s and $3 in quarters. The kit can be clipped to pants or belt. They stay in the vehicles, as they’re almost impossible to find if you don’t know where to look.
    If we’re going somewhere further from home, I’ve GHB’s ready to toss in at a moments notice.

  4. I have four keyrings that are part of my field EDC. Three for the city. One is for my working keys. Truck, front door to the boarding house, door to my room, one for my remote storage rooms.

    One has some things that will not pass security checkpoints. The other two contain many of the items listed plus several more.

    I also carry two wallets. My working wallet with cash, a debit card, several insurance cards, driver’s license, and then several prepper wallet cards to cover several possibilities.

    The second wallet has some of the same prepper wallet cards, but most have some kind of flaw. A very few dollars of cash, several old, no-longer-valid credit and debit cards, insurance cards and the like. This is the wallet that if I am mugged or robbed that the perp gets. Either I hand it to them when asked or they take it. The working wall will not likely be found. And even if it is, I have a few more tricks up my sleeves (and a few other places). Usually a Leatherman, quality high intensity flashlight, and a couple more things on my belt.

    While not pocket items, I do carry some things that not too many do, from what people tell me when I mention them. A four-way silcock key to open outside hydrants on buildings that do not have a handle on the faucet. A cat’s head palm tool for self-defense. A headlamp. A very bright strobe light. water, a few compact tools, all kept in a should sling EDC bag that is kept in the truck.

    There are other things, but I will not go into them.

    Just my opinion.

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